Was all Bible Prophecy fulfilled in the first century, by 70 a.d.?
I was given a challenge once, to show at least one instance in the Bible where the statement, ‘at hand’ and ‘near’ were used prophetically and it didn’t apply to those of the generation that were hearing it. Well, keep reading.
Preterism: The term preterism comes from the Latin praeter, meaning past, since this view deems certain biblical prophecies as past, or already fulfilled.
Preterist believe and teach the prophecies of the Olivet discourse of Matthew 24 and Revelation were fulfilled in the first century with the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD and Jesus has already returned in the form of judgment by the Roman army. Where the scriptures tell us that Jesus will return with the clouds of heaven, that is a symbolic reference to the smoke from the fires burning throughout Jerusalem. Preterist believe we are in the Kingdom of God now, that it is just a spiritual Kingdom. There won’t be a literal 1000-year Kingdom of God here on earth. Preterist also say the Rapture is a lie. The preterist view follows the allegorical method of interpretation. Well it just doesn’t work with the scriptures.
This whole subject that all Bible prophecy was fulfilled by 70 a.d and that Jesus returned in the judgment and destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple by the Roman army, that Jesus was addressing just those hearing him, those of his generation and not referring to a future time other than to the first century hinges on what they call ‘time statements’.
To me it appears that the preterist view focus’ mainly on the phrase ‘this generation”, “at hand” and “near” while ignoring how all the conditions that are required before his 2nd coming and ignore how all the scriptures say Jesus’ second coming will be. The Preterist view looks at what they call ‘time statements’ first and then change what a plain sense reading of how Jesus said his 2nd coming would be. You would not read any other writing like they do the return statements in the Bible. You have to admit, if Jesus meant his return would be physical, visible and literal then the ‘time statements’ must be taken as prophetic of a yet future time. Jesus was prophesying like the prophets of the O.T. Jesus came literally the first time even down to being born to a virgin, He was literally born in Bethlehem, literally rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, literally died on the cross and literally rose from the dead, so we Should expect his 2nd coming to be literal also. All the return scriptures say he will be seen, that his 2nd coming will be literal and a physical return. Taken at face value, with a plain since reading the scriptures referring to Jesus’ 2nd coming are to be taken literally. So, since a literal, visible return hasn’t occurred one must come to the conclusion that by ‘this generation’ Jesus was referring to the generation that will be alive at the time of his 2nd coming, not to the first century. And for all of us living now seeing what we are told concerning Israel, Jerusalem, the Islamic nations as well as other nations and technology falling into place and lining up with how a literal interpretation of the scriptures say they would, that too should show that Jesus was indeed referring to, prophesying to a more future time other than to the time of those that he was speaking to. The reestablishment of Israel as a nation again and the regaining of the city of Jerusalem should show that Jesus was indeed referring to a time other than the first century, just as Daniel described them.
The preterist view see the 490 years of Daniel chapter 9, all of Daniel’s 70 weeks as occurring consecutively, meaning no gap of time between the 483 years and the last 7 years. If there is a gap of time then the view falls apart. Obviously, if the fulfillment of the last 7 years immediately followed the 483 years, then you could not consider the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 a.d. as part of the fulfillment, since it occurred almost 40 years after Jesus’ resurrection which marked the end of the 483 years. But Daniel has it after the 483rd year and before the last 7 years. He includes it in the prophecy of the 490 years. For the last 7 years to immediately follow the 483rd year, then the Temple would have had to been destroyed by the year 40 a.d. The completion of the 490 years would have had to been by the year 40 a.d. This alone shows that the last 7 years does not immediately follow the 483rd year. This would apply to a historicist view also, seeing that they also don’t recognize a gap of time. This gap of time is our current time of the Church age. For more explanation see “The Tribulation being 7 years” and "Daniels 70 Sevens Prophecy".
The Preterist view also hinges on the dating of Revelation. If Revelation was written after 70 a.d. then the Preterist view by that alone falls apart. For in the book of Revelation John addresses the judgment to come, the Temple in Jerusalem which was destroyed in 70 a.d. and the 2nd coming of the Lord. If John received and wrote the book of Revelation before the year 70, don’t you think with all the other things that Jesus revealed to John that He would have also shown him the destruction of the Temple? But there’s no such revelation. Why, because the book of Revelation wasn’t received and written until 95 a.d. The Preterist view ignores eye witnesses as to the dating of Revelation. With Polycarp (A.D. 69-155), who was personally taught by the apostle John, Papias (60 -130), another early Church father that was taught by the Apostle John both wrote that John received the Revelation on the Isle of Patmos in 95 A.D. Irenaeus (A.D. 120-202), who was a disciple of Polycarp taught a pre-millennial view, that Jesus would literally return and set up his earthly kingdom here on earth for a literal 1000 years, a 7-year tribulation and a pre-trib rapture of the Church. He also said that John received the Revelation on the Isle of Patmos in 95 A.D. as do many commentaries on the book of Revelation from the early Church. We can’t get any closer to the source (John) than this. All three of these men as well as others from the first, second and third century’s wrote that John was exiled to the Isle of Patmos under the emperor Domitian. If anyone would know when John was on the Isle of Patmos and wrote the book of Revelation these three men would. All early Church fathers and writers point towards the end of the Emperor Domitian’s reign. Also, it wasn’t Nero’s way to exile anyone to Patmos, which was Domitian’s way of doing things. Domitian exiled them to the isle of Patmos just like he did John. There is no scripture evidence that John was on Patmos during Nero’s reign, just the opposite. John was an old man while on the Isle of Patmos. If he was around 15 to 20 when Jesus started his ministry, then he would have been around 53 to 58 with the 68 date, that’s not an old man even today. But he would have been in at least his 80’s with the 95 dating. There are no historical writings saying all Bible prophesy had been fulfilled until around 367 when the teaching first started by a Roman Catholic priest. There is no account of anyone claiming John was on the Isle of Patmos during Nero’s reign (54-68) until A.D. 550 which was to support the preterist view. … If you were in a court of law and presented this case a judge would rule that John was on the Isle of Patmos in 95 a.d.
In order to make 70 AD the magic year, you have to delete dozens of prophecies that were never fulfilled. Take Jesus’ statement in Mt. 24 concerning ‘‘the abomination that causes desolation,”.
This abomination that causes desolation did not occur before or during the destruction of the Temple in 70 a.d. We see Jesus made reference to Daniel chapter 9 verse 27 in Matthew 24.
Mt. 24: 15 “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand— 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let no one on the housetop go down to take anything out of the house. 18 Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. 19 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 20 Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. 21 For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again.
Ok, when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel— Standing in the Holy Place. The Apostle Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2 tells us that the day of the Lord, this last 7 years allotted to Israel will not come until the man of lawlessness(the anti-Christ) is revealed.
2 Thes. 2: 2 Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, (concerning the rapture) we ask you, brothers and sisters, 2 not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us—whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter—asserting that the day of the Lord (the Tribulation) has already come. 3 Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day (the Tribulation) will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, (the man doomed to destruction).
4 He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.
Verse 4 is describing the abomination of desolation. … he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.
The emperor of Rome did not enter the Temple and desecrate it as Jesus describes, as we see from Daniel that Jesus was using as an example of what was to come. Even if he was going to, the Temple was destroyed by the soldiers before the emperor could enter it. Titus who destroyed the Second Temple and his emperor father Vespasian enjoyed parading the Temple vessels through the streets of Rome. They never entered into the Temple as required with the description of ‘‘the abomination that causes desolation,” spoken of through the prophet Daniel as described by Jesus in Mt. 24 and Paul in 2 Thes. 2.
Prophecies in the O.T., in the Gospels and in the book of Revelation refer to there being a Temple in Jerusalem at the time of Jesus’ 2nd coming. There has to be a Temple for the abomination of desolation that Jesus referred to in Mt. 24 to occur. As we have seen and know from past history this didn’t happen in the first century or since. Well, the Jews already have laid out the plans for rebuilding the Temple. They already have all Temple furniture, the priestly garments, they have already made all the Temple vessels, everything required for the priestly duties. They have identified men from the tribe of Levi, of line of Aron to be priests and are training them. Only men from the tribe of Levi were allowed to be Priests. And they have even already chosen the High Priest. They can rebuild the Temple now. From archeological findings etc. they have discovered actually where the Temple stood. It wasn’t where the muslim dome of the rock is located which fulfills what we see in Rev. 11. John was told to, “Go and measure the temple of God and the altar, with its worshipers. 2 But exclude the outer court; do not measure it, because it has been given to the Gentiles”. The muslim dome of the rock is in the outer court. Now that is amazing. And John was shown this 2000 years ago.
The destruction in 70 a.d. doesn’t fit with all the conditions Jesus mentions in Matthew 24 as well as in Mark and Luke and in Revelation. The killing of the Jews by Hitler was much greater than what the Romans did in 70 a.d. So the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem by the Romans couldn’t be what Jesus meant when He said to ‘never be equaled again’. This as well as the other conditions of Matthew 24 hasn’t happened yet. They will happen during the final 7 years allotted to Israel, the Tribulation.
When was the Gospel preached to all the nations? When was the Mark of the Beast implemented? What about China's 200-million-man army? At the time John received and wrote the book of Revelation there wasn’t 200 million people in the whole known world. John said he heard their number. When did 100-pound hailstones fall from the sky? When did everyone all over the world gaze upon the dead bodies of the two witnesses and then see them caught up to heaven. That hasn’t been possible until satellites. And what date was it when the Euphrates River dried up? When was every Mountain and Island removed from its place? When did all the cities in the world collapse? When did all the fresh water in the world become polluted, poisoned? And when did like 85% of the people all over the world die in a very short period of time? All this is in the book of Revelation.
Concerning a false prophet and the mark of the beast. When did any of this happen? We are told from the scriptures there will be a world political leader as well as a false religious leader. Where did what John describes ever occur? Rev. 13: 11 Then I saw a second beast, coming out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb, but it spoke like a dragon. 12 It exercised all the authority of the first beast(the anti-Chrsit) on its behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed. 13 And it performed great signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to the earth in full view of the people. 14 Because of the signs it was given power to perform on behalf of the first beast, it deceived the inhabitants of the earth. It ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. 15 The second beast was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that the image could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed. 16 It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, 17 so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name.
The questions are endless. Why did we have the rebirth of Israel? If Jerusalem was forever removed from being the burdensome stone(Zech. 12:3), why has it now returned to that status? When did all the Jews shout, Mt. 23:39, "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord," as Jesus said they would? And notice something else that Jesus said in Matthew 24. He said let the reader understand. The disciples weren’t reading this they were hearing it, but those living during the tribulation will have this in the Bible to read and understand. Also, the condition the world is in today does not meet with the conditions given of the kingdom of God here on earth. Well I could go on and on.
OK. To the time statements.
Before looking at the ‘time statements’, we must first see how Jesus said his 2nd coming will be. This has to be the point that all other scriptures are based on. Second would be the dating of the book of Revelation. Jesus said of his 2nd coming,
Mt. 24: 27 For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. … and 29 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then (all the tribes of the earth) will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
Add to it Acts 1: 9 Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 10 And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, 11 who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in (like) manner as you (saw) Him go into heaven.”
Jesus left visibly, was literally seen ascending up into the clouds in the sky, so they would have understood Jesus and the two angel’s statements to be taken literally. . Jesus said his 2nd coming would be like lighting that would illuminate the whole earth, that everyone all over the world would see him. John was told this in Rev. 1: 7 Behold, He is coming with clouds, and (every eye will see Him), even they who pierced Him. And (all the tribes of the earth) will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen
There is nothing in his statements that should lead anyone into taking his statement as anything other than literally. The logical and plain sense reading of this suggest he meant his return would be physical, visible and literal. Since a physical, visible and literal return has not occurred then all the other statements must be looked at as prophetic of a yet future time.
The Preterist view says ‘at hand’ and 'near' are referring to 70 a.d. Can we find in the Bible where ‘at hand’ and 'near' are used and it didn’t refer to their time, to that generation but to a yet future time? As the principle in the Bible of ‘out of the mouths of two or three witnesses a matter shall be established’ I’ll give you three. Deut. 17:6, 19:15, Mt. 18:16.
Well lets take a closer look at what Jesus said would be occurring. Just like with his reference back to Daniel with the abomination of desolation, Jesus used it as an example to what was to occur in the future, he also was using this statement, Mt. 24: 29 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. .. Mk. 13: 24 “But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; 25 the stars of heaven will fall, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.
Now compare what Jesus said with Isaiah and Joel: Notice they are describing the same things that Jesus did in the Gospels and in the book of Revelation.
Isa. 13: 6 Wail, for the day of the LORD is at (hand)
It will come as destruction from the Almighty.
9 Behold, the day of the LORD comes,
Cruel, with both wrath and fierce anger,
To lay the land desolate;
And He will destroy its sinners from it.
10 For the stars of heaven and their constellations
Will not give their light;
The sun will be darkened in its going forth,
And the moon will not cause its light to shine.
11 “I will punish the world for its evil,
And the wicked for their iniquity;
Joel 2: 1Blow the trumpet in Zion,
And sound an alarm in My holy mountain!
Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble;
For the day of the LORD is coming,
For it is at (hand):
2 A day of darkness and gloominess,
A day of clouds and thick darkness,
10 The earth quakes before them,
The heavens tremble;
The sun and moon grow dark,
And the stars diminish their brightness.
30 “And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth:
Blood and fire and pillars of smoke.
31 The sun shall be turned into darkness,
And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD.
Joel 3: 14 Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision!
For the day of the LORD is (near) in the valley of decision.
15 The sun and moon will grow dark,
And the stars will diminish their brightness.
Here’s another one from Zephaniah. Notice he describes the exact same things that Isaiah, Joel, Jesus and the book of Revelation. Here with Zephaniah we even have him saying, quickly.
Zeph. 1:7Be silent in the presence of the Lord GOD;
For the day of the LORD is at (hand),
For the LORD has prepared a sacrifice;
He has invited His guests.
Zeph. 1: 14 The great day of the LORD is (near);
It is (near and hastens quickly).
The noise of the day of the LORD is bitter;
There the mighty men shall cry out.
15 That day is a day of wrath,
A day of trouble and distress,
A day of devastation and desolation,
A day of darkness and gloominess,
A day of clouds and thick darkness,
Since Jesus referred to these verses as occurring sometime in the future from the time he was speaking, and none of this has occurred, they have to be seen as ultimately referring to the Tribulation. One could argue these verses in Isaiah, Joel and Zephaniah are also seen as referring to the Babylonian destruction of Judah and Jerusalem. BUT, the point is, was the prophecies in Isaiah, Joel and Zephaniah fulfilled in the life time of those hearing them. They obviously were not alive in 70 a.d or now. Were any of them still alive during the time of the Babylonian destruction? The answer is NO. Isaiah began his ministry in 740 B.C. to 701 B.C. The first captives of Judah were taken over a 100 years later in 605 B.C which included Daniel and the second captives in 597 B.C. which included Ezekiel. Babylon finally destroyed Judah and Jerusalem in 586 B.C. It’s the same with Joel and Zephaniah.
So we do have Biblical use of “at hand”, “near” and “quickly” even with the Babylonian’s that didn’t come to pass until over a 100 years later after those that were alive at the time of the prophets warning had died. So, even if they are seen as only addressing the Babylonian destruction, these prophecies didn't come to pass in Isaiah's, Joel's and Zephaniah’s generation, during the generation that was hearing it. And with Jesus referring back to these scriptures saying it would occur in the future, even with the Preterist 70 a.d there were over 600 years before they were fulfilled. Since none of this and the other conditions Jesus mentions obviously didn’t occurr in 70 a.d. or any time since, then Jesus was referring to the still yet future Tribulation. We find further evidence of a prophecy that didn’t occur in the hearer’s life time in Joel 2 that spans more than 1000 years.
Joel 2: 28 “And it shall come to pass afterward
That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your old men shall dream dreams,
Your young men shall see visions.
29 And also on My menservants and on My maidservants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days.
Well, we know from Acts ch. 2 this did not happen during Joel’s life time. Peter referred back to this on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was given.
Acts 2: 16 But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
17 ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God,
That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your young men shall see visions,
Your old men shall dream dreams.
18 And on My menservants and on My maidservants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days;
And they shall prophesy.
19 I will show wonders in heaven above
And signs in the earth beneath:
Blood and fire and vapor of smoke.
20 The sun shall be turned into darkness,
And the moon into blood,
Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD.
It was 1000 years from the time Joel prophesied this. So we do have Biblical use of “at hand” and "near" that didn’t come to pass in the time of that generations hearing. We are still in the last days.
Concerning “The abomination of desolation” spoken of by Jesus had been prophesied six centuries earlier by Daniel”. Well, this was spoken to Daniel’s generation but what he referred to in Dan. Ch. 11 did not come to pass for over 600 years. In 167 BC Daniel’s prophecy in ch. 11 became an unforgettable reality when Antiochus IV Epiphanes took Jerusalem by force, abolished temple sacrifices, erected an abominable altar to Zeus Olympus, and violated the Jewish covenant by outlawing Sabbath observance.” … This is a good example how prophecy can have duel applications. While this can be seen as referring to Antiochus IV Epiphanes, there’s a major problem with the preterist view, and shows how what happened with Antiochus wasn’t the fulfillment of what Jesus had in mind in Mt. 24, meaning it had already occurred, for Jesus said what was spoken through Daniel was still yet to happen. Jesus, by referencing Daniel set the conditions for what was to come. When Jesus referenced the desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, everyone in His audience knew precisely what He was talking about”. --- Jerusalem taken, abolished temple sacrifices, erect an abominable altar to a false god in the Holy of Holies, and outlawing Sabbath observance. So all this is what every Jew would expect to happen. Jesus said ‘standing in the holy place’. Paul in 2 Thes. 2 said the day of the Lord “will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. 4 He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.” John in Rev. 13 tells us, “5 The beast(the anti-Christ) was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise its authority for forty-two months. 6 It opened its mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. 7 It was given power to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them. And it was given authority over (every tribe, people, language and nation). 8 (All inhabitants of the earth) will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the Lamb’s book of life, the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world.” --- This did not occur with the 70 a.d. destruction. ---
Jesus said, When you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ - when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door, --- “see standing in the holy Place” --- Dan. 9:27 – speaking of the man that is called the anti-Christ, - He will confirm a covenant with many for ‘seven’ years. In the middle of the ‘seven’ years he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him. Preterist have a major problem here. .. The ‘abomination that causes desolation,’ as described by Daniel that Jesus referenced did not occur by 70 a.d. or since. The Emperor of Rome did not make a covenant at all with Israel much less for 7 years as described by Daniel and he did not even enter the Temple. This is one of the conditions Jesus put on knowing his return is near. This must occur before his 2nd coming. As I said above, Titus who destroyed the Second Temple and his emperor father Vespasian enjoyed parading the Temple vessels through the streets of Rome. They never entered into the Temple as required with the description of the ‘‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel. The destruction in 70 a.d. doesn’t fit with all the conditions Jesus mentions. With Jesus referring to “The abomination of desolation” makes Antiochus IV Epiphanes the best example of what the man that has come to be referred to as the anti-Christ or the beast will be like. And remember from above, we have eye witnesses that state that John was on the Isle of Patmos and wrote the book of Revelation in 95 a.d.
So, here again we have from Daniel and Jesus a prophecy given that was spoken well over 2000 years ago of which has yet to be fulfilled. It will be fulfilled in the coming time of what has come be referred to has the tribulation.
As I said in the beginning, this whole subject hinges on how Jesus said his 2nd coming will be. This has to be the point that all other statements are based on. You have to take all the conditions associated with his 2nd coming into account. Add to it all the evidence points to John receiving and writing the book of Revelation in the year 95 a.d. and you can come to no other conclusion than Jesus’ words were prophetic of a yet future time. Jesus was prophesying just like the prophets of the Old Testament. … If you accept the scriptures to mean what they say, then you have no other option but to accept that he was prophesying of a more future time, or he got it wrong.
There is so much in the world lining up and falling into place with Bible Prophecy now like no other time in history. For the first time prophecies are beginning to come together at the same time. From what the Bible tells us, it certainly looks like we are in the season of the Lord’s return for his faithful followers.
It’s more important now than ever that All believers should know what the Bible teaches and to be aware of what is happening in the world today. For Our Time is Short.
Maranatha, Our Lord Comes.